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Crash Team Rumble

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Toys For Bob
Release Date: June 20, 2023


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne Preview - 'Crash Team Rumble'

by Cody Medellin on May 5, 2023 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Crash Team Rumble is an all-new 4v4, team-based online multiplayer video game set in Crash Bandicoot's vibrant and zany universe.

The Crash Bandicoot series started as a single-player platformer and has been wildly successful in that realm. It has also dabbled in multiplayer with mixed results. People have fond memories of both the original and recent remake of Crash Team Racing, but the same cannot be said for Crash Bash, the series' answer to the minigame-fest that is Mario Party. This is why it was a curious thing to see that after Crash Bandicoot 4, the next game for the character is a multiplayer-only focused title. There was a closed beta for Crash Team Rumble, so we took it for a spin.

Crash Team Rumble starts with a tutorial, which will be familiar for those who have played a Crash Bandicoot game before. You start the tutorial with Crash, with the familiar moves of a spin attack, body slam, and slide. The same goes for other characters, so Tawna has her grappling hook, and Dr. Cortex has his transformation laser pistol. Crates are everywhere, and you need to collect wampa fruit. Grabbing the fruit doesn't automatically add it to the team total, as you'll need to get to the bank before it is officially transferred. You also have a cap on how much fruit you can have at a time on your person, so you can't run around the arena gathering hundreds of fruit before making a deposit. Unlike past games, you have an energy meter, so you won't experience one-hit kills, but you will lose some fruit if you get hit. That's a reason to avoid combat if you're near your max capacity, and it gives you a reason to fight if you have little to nothing to lose.

There are a few new things, aside from the need to stand on a platform to bank fruit. You can collect relics that can be used to activate new tools and abilities on certain pads. Depending on the level, that ranges from something simple, like a beach ball to bounce enemies away, to something bigger, like a mask to rain down meteors from the sky or a UFO to zap enemies from above. Gems pads let you give your team bonus points for collecting and banking fruit for a limited time, but only if you can turn all of the gems in a set to your color for a set amount of time. Each character is assigned a role from scorer to booster to blocker, and fulfilling those tasks for your role gives you access to temporary powers, like a healing fridge for your team, a plant that constantly spits at enemies, and a giant boss that blocks your enemy's bank for a while.

A competitive platformer like this seems like a strange idea for a multiplayer-focused title, but it works well in practice. The platforming mechanics are solid, and the jumps are generous enough that you don't have to worry about clearing gaps. The combat mechanics are solid enough that a fight between Dingodile and Coco Bandicoot is fair, even though the former has a ranged weapon in the form of a vacuum gun. The whole thing doesn't feel as chaotic as expected, unless you constantly fight over the gems to power up your team.

There are a few things that may sway a player's opinion of Crash Team Rumble. The maps look well designed, but they also discourage exploration. Unless you keep aiming for the gems, you can safely stay in your corner of the map near the bank and keep getting almost endless fruit without setting foot in enemy territory. There's also the issue of level progression. Win or lose, doing decently earns XP for your chosen character and your season pass progress. The progress through both of these areas is both fast and slow. For the character, it's fairly quick to reach a new level; playing through four games with one win and three losses was enough to get Crash to level 2. For the season pass, it felt abysmally slow; six matches with two wins and four losses still aren't enough to get past level 1 in the pass. The season pass in the beta had 40 levels with an expiration date of 10 days. While the character XP gains and other challenges ensure that a steady amount of rewards keep getting doled out, the slow season pass creep may be too grindy for most players.

The beta code gave us access to both the PS5 and PS4 versions of the game, and both versions are largely the same except for a few aspects. Load times are longer even when played on a PS5, and the image is softer on a 4K set, which suggests a lower overall resolution but still runs at 60fps from what we can tell. The PS4 iteration was the only one to crash upon passing through the two Terms of Service screens. The PS4 also seems to have a network delay, as attacks on opponents aren't being read even when it's clear that the default spin attack would reach them. This is a beta, and bugs are expected, but it is informative for owners of the previous generation console who don't plan on getting the updated PlayStation console.

So far, Crash Team Rumble is shaping up to be an interesting multiplayer romp. The beta's lone mode is good fun, but the level design could use some tweaks to get players more mobile on the map. The season pass progression may be slow, but character progression is speedy enough that you'll get a steady reward stream — even if most rewards seem geared toward profile customization. It remains to be seen if the game will have more game modes, but Crash Team Rumble is definitely worth some attention.

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